With about 6% of the eligible voters casting ballots in Region 1, the budget passed by a vote of 400-203. The success of this vote is directly proportional to the time that the Region 1 Board spent on the high school and special education. Housatonic Valley Regional High School is now the best funded school in the State of Connecticut.
This week, the All Boards Chairs (ABC) committee met for its regular meeting. They reviewed the reapproval of the joint agreement on the employment of the Superintendent of Schools. Except for Falls Village, all the Boards of Education approved the updated agreement. Then the committee encircled the difficult issue of regionalization and put off discussion. They heard from representatives of the Jane Lloyd Fund who would like help getting referrals. (That fund provides financial and psychological support for people with cancer.) The committee embarked on the evaluation of the Superintendent on the same schedule as last year, culminating near the end of the school year in May. And they restarted the discussion on the remainder of the 7000 series of policies, deciding on a special meeting just for that purpose.
Region 1 Assistant Superintendent Pam Vogel
The Region 1 Board of Education and the All Board Chairs Committee (the Search Committee) are very pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Pamela Kay Vogel as the new Assistant Superintendent of the Regional School District #1. Dr. Vogel comes to our region from an impressive career at all levels of public education in Iowa. Pam began her career as a teacher of students with special needs. She has many years of experience as Director of Curriculum/Instruction, and has also served as principal of a middle school. She supervised leadership development for the Heartland Area Education Agency (an Iowa equivalent of Education Connection), and has served for the past seven years as Superintendent of Schools of the East Union Community School District, enrollment 600. For the past five years, Dr. Vogel has also served as a University Instructor in Iowa State University’s Superintendent Licensure program.
Dolores Perotti, North Canaan Board of Education Chair
Ned Gow, North Canaan Region One Board Representative
The March 26 editorial in The Lakeville Journal questioned the decision of the ABC Committee and seven Region One Boards of Education to focus first on the written agreement for Joint Employment of the Superintendent rather than targeting the 7000 Series of policies.
On Wednesday evening, the Region 1 Board of Education held a public hearing on the regional budget for the 2015-2016 school year. Chairman Andrea Downs presented the budgets for Housatonic Valley Regional High School, Pupil Services, and the Regional School Services Center (RSSC). Following the almost silent hearing, the Board passed the budget to a regional vote with the expectation of a referendum on Tuesday, May 5, 2015.
On Tuesday evening, The Kent Board of Finance met to consider the budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. Chairman Nancy O’Dea-Wyrick addressed the shortfall of about $900,000 needed to keep the mill rate constant. Further, she noted that the savings in the general reserve had been used up in previous years and was no longer available to defray these costs.
At their regular meeting this month, the Region 1 Board of Education spent most of the time listening to presentations. When the meeting finally began, they quickly passed the updated joint agreement on the employment of the Superintendent of Schools. They moved the purchase of computers for 9th and 10th grade to this year’s budget and added the purchase of computers for 11th grade into the budget for next year. And they considered not refilling the position of an English teacher who retired, but took no action. The current budget is now down to 1.85% and will go the public hearing on Wednesday.
At midday Monday, the All Boards Chairs (ABC) committee met quickly to consider changes in the joint agreement for the employment of a Superintendent of Schools in Region 1. The Town of Falls Village (officially Canaan) had submitted proposed changes to that document through an attorney. Attorney Gary Brochu, representing the committee, noted in an email that the Town has no standing in the matter; it is a matter for the Boards of Education to decide. Nonetheless, he made several small changes in the agreement including a process for termination. The ABC committee approved his minor changes and recommended the new agreement to all seven Boards of Education.
Regionalization is an odd term for dealing with the problem of severely declining enrollment of students in the region’s schools. Region 1 has lost 27% of its students in the last ten years and can expect further declines. Regionalization in this sense means consolidating students into various schools to provide better socialization for the students and more efficient operation. A few examples may suffice to ask about the goals of such transfers. For instance, a small school may be closed or middle school students in the 7th and 8th grades may be transferred to the high school. How do these ideas stack up when the details are examined?
The New England School Development Council (NESDEC) typically does enrollment projections and history for Region 1. The enrollment history shows a sharp decline from 2142 students in 2004 to 1556 students this year, a 27% change. Following the region’s birthrate, that decline will continue until it levels out at roughly 1290 students in 2022, another 13%.
The All Boards Chairs (ABC) committee met on a rainy night to discuss regional issues. They learned from each other that six of the seven Boards of Education had agreed to the joint agreement on the employment of the Superintendent of Schools. Falls Village, the seventh Board, was unable to answer questions; their First Selectman, Pat Mechare, has illegally held up their response. The committee also initiated discussion of regionalization of the school systems. That discussion included the movement of students between schools and the possible closing of the smaller schools. The committee finished with a final review of the regional budget, and started the process for evaluating the Superintendent.
A letter to the Region 1 Board of Education:
Earlier this month, the Region 1 Board of Education adopted the first pass at a long range plan. You set in place a review of the course offerings, staffing, and building utilization at Housatonic Valley Regional High School to be done by Principal Jose Martinez during the next school year. Actually, such a review was necessary from the start of the enrollment decline in 2006 when student projections showed the problem. But it took a new set of eyes to see the necessity.